I decided to hit up the tiny lone Indian restaurant in my city the other day for some spicy international cuisine. Check it out!
Mmmmm! Looks yummy, yes?
HA! I totally fooled you! That pictured above is indeed some delicious Indian fare, but it was not prepared or consumed at a restaurant. I made that there food, I did - and the photo is of my breakfast yesterday morning. Lemme tell you, it was scrumptacular.
One cool thing about where I live is that my little "town" is surrounded by big factories. There are a lot of foreigners working at those places, so some grocery stores have set up little areas offering ingredients from places where the factory workers hail, namely The Philippines, Indonesia, China, and Pakistan. I got the ingredients for my curry at the one little shop that's dedicated exclusively to selling foreign food. I bought the last two bags of chana dal, which is a young split chickpea without the seedcoat. You have to soak or slow cook this bean to soften it, but it still doesn't turn into mush, which is a very good thing as far as I'm concerned. I made the curry with some chopped onion, tomatoes and chillis, and added generous spoonfuls of turmeric and curry powder (a mix of red chilli, coriander, cornflour, turmeric, black pepper, clove, cardamom, cumin seeds, cinnamon, curry leaves, and salt.) Both the turmeric and curry powder are from Pakistan!
The naan I made was only my second ever attempt at making it, and it was a huge success. The first time I tried to make it a couple weeks ago was very "meh," but this time the dough raised wonderfully and the result was so tasty and sort of reminded me of pita.
I had googled some naan recipes and pretty much threw together whatever I felt like. Naan is a very forgiving bread and there are loads of varieties you can make. I dissolved about a teaspoonful of yeast into warm water and poured a mound of flour and a bit of baking powder and salt into another bowl. After the yeast had bubbled up a bit, I poured that into the dry ingredients and then added a small container of plain yogurt. That stuff is sweetened here, so I didn't bother with sugar, and i think I added a little oil as well and then knead it all up into a nice soft dough. After it doubled in size I divided it into six balls and let them rise too. Then I flattened them with my bottle-of-gin-rolling-pin and cooked them in a very lightly oiled skillet.
You know it's time to turn them when they start to puff up and the underside starts to brown.
Flip them over and this is what you see:
You know what's pretty funny, though? If you (with your crystal ball and mad fortune tellings skillz) had told me just a few weeks ago that I'd be eating (let alone enjoying and I daresay even craving) those legumey split chickpea thingies I'd have told you you were stone-cold mental. I grew up being forced to eat peas and beans at the dinner table and I ALWAYS washed them down, pill-style, with a swig of milk. I wasn't keen on the milk either. After I got to an age where I could decide on my own what I wanted or didn't want to eat, I avoided vegetables like those. I should have keyed in to the idea that perhaps my palate has expanded, since I love dried peas, beans, and legumes - and think fresh shelled peas are pure deelish. So a few weeks ago my boyfriend cooked up a similar curry with naan (and he's far far better at those dishes than I) and gently urged me to try a bite. I thought, "What the hell?" and tucked in. YUM! So I pestered him to make it again - and again, "YUMMY!!" So I decided to try making it on my own, and my first attempt wasn't that bad at all. I'll try to make it have a stronger flavour next time.
Anyhow, because I've never eaten this sort of thing before, the little ditty "Beans, beans, the magical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot," was really lost on me. Let me tell you, though - I get it now.
I did not have to walk home last night. I just pointed my feet in the direction of my apartment and let my ass motor me along. I spent the rest of the night astounding myself with the frequency of the trumpeting of my butt. Thankfully, I wasn't reeking the place up at all - but even the cat was staring at me like, "Dude! What's up with all the noise?"
Mary Etta's Cafe (Flinn Springs/El Cajon)
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